The iPhone was pretty cool when it launched. Apps were revolutionary and it changed how we interact with mobile devices. Android took it one step further by having Live wallpapers and widgets that move and delight with flashing colors. Surprisingly, Windows Phone 8 differentiates itself and looks awesome at the same time.
Microsoft revealed Windows Phone 8 today and it's actually really cool. If you've seen the Windows 8 Metro desktop environment, then you should have an idea of what to expect with the mobile version. It still has the same live tile-based home screen that we see in Metro, but it's far more alive than the name suggests.
It's hard to explain without actually seeing it, so check it out. We'll compare notes after the video:
So let's first look at the actual function of the new start screen. Users will be able to customize the size of the live tiles to their liking. A large tile will display a preview of a new message whereas a medium sized tile will display the number of messages plus an emoticon getting happier as it receives more messages. The small tile will simply display a number next to a speech bubble. These kind of notifications will apply to every app and change depending on the size.
Once you move past the functionality, it looks like live tiles will be a lot of fun. As much as I hate Metro on desktops, I absolutely adore it on mobile platforms. It was built for mobile and Microsoft really nailed the simplistic blocky design that really sets it apart from the other platforms.
The redesigned live tiles are obviously a major selling point of Windows Phone 8. It's too bad that Windows Phone 7 users can't upgrade to 8 without buying a new phone. Thankfully, Microsoft isn't that heartless and cruel. They will be providing the new live tiles in the Windows Phone 7.8 update coming out later this year.
Microsoft just keeps on showing that they know how to design a sexy piece of software (and hardware). They only face one tiny problem - the entrenched power of iOS and Android. Will a pretty start screen be able to draw users away from the mobile juggernauts? Well, they almost have swayed me away from Android, so who knows?